Thursday, April 27, 2017

After Easter Musings - Part 2

After Easter Musings - Part 2

For the past few weeks I’ve been revisiting some of the details surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. For the past few days my focus has been Matthew 27:45-54.

My blog post last week looked at some of Jesus’ last words. Today, I want to look at two amazing events relating to Jesus’ death and rising back to life. One of which is one of the least talked about miracles of the New Testament.

We’ll begin with Matthew 27:51: “Then behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.”

At the moment of Jesus’ death the veil of the Temple tore in two from top to bottom. This event was of monumental significance!

The veil was a massive curtain—a barrier between sinful man and holy God. It was four inches thick and sixty feet high. Behind the veil was the Holy of Holies where the presence of God dwelled. 

Once a year the high priest would go behind the veil to offer a sacrifice of the blood of a spotless lamb to atone for the sins of himself and the people (Hebrew 9:7).

Now on this day, which we call Good Friday, Jesus was the Lamb. His blood atoned for our sins once and for all. God received the blood of His Son and offered forgiveness for all our sins. It’s up to each of us to accept His offer. We have free will.

Jesus paid our debt in full once and for all.

At that moment God Himself tore the temple veil from top to bottom. No human could have done that. The Holy of Holies was now exposed and our Heavenly Father was accessible to all who will receive His Son. Jesus made the way.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body ... let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19-22).
God tore the Temple Veil (Internet image)

The next verse tells of an event which is a phenomenon, rarely mentioned by preachers and teachers. In fact this past Sunday, a few days after I wrote this post, my pastor actually included it in his sermon. I was thrilled. I’ve sat in many a church pew and have done many a Bible study and this was the first time I’ve ever heard someone talk about this verse from a pulpit or lectern. 

Verses 52-53 says, “and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”

Who were these people? We’re told they are saints. Some translations say they were righteous people. For this, I’m going to yield the floor to my pastor, Hal Adams, and provide a link to his sermon from last Sunday. He covers this much better than I had planned to do.

But first, I want to add one last verse because I love it so much and it is very telling. Verse 54 says, “So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, ‘Truly this was this Son of God!’”

Below is the link to Pastor Hal’s sermon last Sunday. The video is pretty lengthy so if you don’t have time for the entire thing (which I hope you do) the part about verses 52-53 is at about the 50 minute mark. Please be bless as you watch and listen.

Your comments are welcome.

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford

Friday, April 21, 2017

After-Easter Musings - Part 1

After-Easter Musings - Part 1

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Just because Easter was last week end doesn’t mean I must move on to other passages and Bible events. For the past few weeks I’ve been revisiting some of the details surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. This morning my focus was Matthew 27:45-54.

Above Golgotha, ominous darkness fell over the land. (v. 45) 

Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (v. 46).

This is the only place in Scripture where Jesus referred to God as “God” rather than “Father.” At this point, Jesus was suffering from the heavy weight of all the sin of all mankind. The Son of God, who was without sin, became sin for us so that we could wear His own righteousness in its place. 

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

It’s a hard saying that God forsook Jesus and, yes, I recently saw the movie in which the God character said that He did not turn away His Son—but was right there with Jesus all along. In my opinion, that’s a soulish, emotional wish which is not biblically sound.

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The truth is that at this point Jesus became all of the vile, shameful sin of mankind. Holy God does not tolerate sin and His turning away was a judicial act of a just God. In human terms we cannot completely understand what was happening in these moments. It was a traumatic spiritual and physical experience that Jesus alone went through and Jesus alone was qualified to do. 

I know that Jesus took the punishment I deserved—and you deserved and every human being deserved. In doing so He unlocked the way—ripped open the veil of separation—that prevented you and me from being in full relationship with God, our Creator and Heavenly Father.

We each owed a debt we couldn’t pay and Jesus paid a debt that He didn’t owe. That’s amazing grace!

Commentary in “The Jesus Bible” says “this pivotal moment in universal history, the day when Jesus took away the sin of the world, was not only about the souls of men and women; it was about the very character of God. The cross is the answer to the question above; the crucifixion is the apex of God’s love and mercy but also of his justice and righteousness. At the cross God not only provided the ultimate answer for how a person can be made righteous by faith, but he has also dispensed his justice. At the cross, God poured out his wrath on his own Son so that sinful human beings might be forgiven and granted the righteousness of Jesus’ life. At the cross, the God of righteousness both demonstrates and grants righteousness, for he is both just and the One who justifies.”*

By bearing the burden of our sin, Jesus made a way for us to have eternal life instead of eternal damnation, which we each deserve. This eternal life we cannot earn through doing good things. It is a free gift we accept by believing Jesus is who the Bible says He is—the unique Son of God—and by receiving Him as Lord of our lives. 


Verse 50 say that Jesus cried out for the last time. His words are recorded by the gospel writer, John: “It is finished” (John 19:30). Then Jesus gave up His spirit and died. 

Photo by Connie Wohlford
Jesus knew He had completed the work His Father sent Him to do. It was done—mission accomplished. At that moment Jesus chose to release His spirit from His human body. He Himself maintained control the entire time. While He hung on the cross He could have called ten thousand angels to rescue Him and wipe out all who opposed Him. But because of His and His Father’s great love for us, He chose to go through with the torment. He knew this was the only way. He had previously said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  

Jesus willingly became the once-for-all sacrificial Lamb on that Passover 2000 years ago. John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God” on the day he baptized Him (John 1:29). Ever since the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, for those who put our trust in Him, the Death Angel passes over.
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

Please comment below if you would like to participate in the conversation.

*”The Jesus Bible, NIV Edition,” Copyright 2016 by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p.1751

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford